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The 14th annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium focuses beyond walls, borders

"Indivisible Justice Beyond Walls & Borders” is the theme of the 2018 J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium. On Thursday, March 15, the symposium will include a full day of discussions, films and events at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts, 1000 E. University.

Man in a suit speaking with a woman
J. Paul Taylor, seen here at an NMSU College of Arts and Sciences homecoming reception in 2013, spearheaded the social justice symposium that bears his name. (Courtesy photo)

On Wednesday, March 14, the public is invited to a pre-symposium community workshop by Christina Marín, from Phoenix College, from 7:30–9 p.m. at the Isabella M. Crouch Theatre. Access to the theatre is available from the parking lot near Barnes and Noble.

The symposium hosted by NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences will showcase experts tackling the tough subject of walls and borders dealing with many issues including racial and gender justice as well as physical walls and borders in the region.

Named for a respected state representative and educator, the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium started in 2005 when Taylor suggested strategies for bringing resources of the university to address problems faced by underserved populations in the southwest. Manal Hamzeh, associate professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, chaired the planning committee for the symposium, which included NMSU faculty members Cynthia Bejarano, Larissa Lury, Connie Voisine and Anne Hubbell.

“The theme is indivisible justice, so we are trying to bridge across multiple borders and multiple walls,” said Bejarano, a Regents Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies/Gender and Sexuality Studies. “It’s a timely topic. We hear about the border wall on a national scale and rarely have an opportunity to explore how it touches the lives of people in borderland communities. When we think of community and through the optic of the J. Paul Taylor Symposium we aren’t just thinking about one Paso Del Norte Regional community. We are thinking about walls and borders at the university level and across communities of students, faculty and administrators, and across advocacy groups that comprise part of the larger Las Cruces and Paso del Norte Region. This symposium will work to acknowledge the myriad ways that people have been somehow touched by walls and borders. Patrick Narvaez, the Cacique from the Tortugas Pueblo, and Henry Narvaez, former Cacique, will open the symposium with a blessing followed by a welcome by Hamzeh and College of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Beth Pollack. Taylor also will join the event to address participants at 9:15 a.m.

A special exhibit by students of the J. Paul Taylor Academy titled “Reimagining Our World: Building Blocks of Justice” will be on display to engage participants who will have the opportunity to rearrange the building blocks designed by each class to represent their journeys into justice and possibilities of a just world.

The keynote speaker is Margo Tamez, associate professor of the Indigenous Studies Program, Community, Culture, and Global Studies Department, University of British Columbia at Okanagan. Following Tamez’ talk, Bejarano will introduce a screening of the film “El Muro,” by Ramon and Rosalia Resendiz.

A panel discussion at noon titled “The Paso Del Norte Region: Histories, Impacts, and Abolishing Border Colonialism” will feature Gabriela Moreno, NMSU assistant professor of Spanish, Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, director of advocacy and research at Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Emiliano Ignacio Díaz Carnero, political geographer, Department of Cultural Studies at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Juarez, and Cynthia Pompa, ACLU El Paso, field organizer with the ACLU, Regional Center for Border Rights.

After a break for lunch, Marín, Program Director of Theatre & Film at Phoenix College, will present a drama workshop using newspaper theatre techniques developed to unpack how current events are portrayed through different media outlets.

Hamzeh will introduce a research-based art exhibit by Visualizing Palestine (VP) about the walls and borders on Palestinian land and their impact on Palestinians’ lives. The exhibit takes the viewer through a number of infographic posters that will be used as prompts to open a conversation.

“The timing of this besides the national climate we are living in the last year is tied to 100 years of history in Palestine,” said Hamzeh, who is from Palestine. “We want to engage the audience in facts to help them begin to understand a complex history between a very powerful state and an indigenous people in Palestine and begin to understand the stories of the Palestinians who have been struggling for justice for 70 years.”

At 4:15 p.m. the annual social justice awards will be presented, one for a faculty, staff or student of NMSU and a second for a Las Cruces community member dedicated to the cause of social justice. The social justice award for a community member will go to Audrey Hardman-Hartley, executive director, Jardin de los Ninõs. The NMSU award will go to three individuals NMSU criminal justice professors Dulcinea Lara and Nicholas Natividad, and Kayla Meyers, NMSU graduate student in anthropology.

The final event of the evening will be a screening of “Open Bethlehem,” a film about the walls and gates that isolate this ancient city, followed by closing remarks and a reception for participants.

The events are free and open to the public. For more information and schedules, visit the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium website at https://artsci.nmsu.edu/news-media/as-events/ .